Chi-Town Squares

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Chi-Town Squares.jpg

Location: Chicago, IL, USA


Started: 1987

Admitted to IAGSDC: 20 May 1988 as Full Member

Status: Active


From the Program Book of the 5th IAGSDC Convention, held in Phoenix, AZ in 1988:
Chi Town Squares, Chicago, IL was formed in September 1987 and has stabilized in size at about four squares. Under the maniacal pace set by our caller, Lowell, we have gone through Basic and Mainstream in just three months! Now, we are busy letting it all sink in - with an occasional foray into the world of Plus. In spite of our fledgling status, we were invited to participate in a local fundraiser in early February this year. On a stage barely deep enough for a square, we cautiously introduced gay square dancing to about 400 Chicagoans. Hopefully, some of them will show up at our next class in September.
From the Program Book of the 10th IAGSDC Convention, held in Seattle, WA in 1993:
Chi-Town Squares burst upon the Chicago scene during the summer of 1987. It seems, Ron Goodman, a transplanted Seattle's Puddletown Squares, and Jerry Cohen, a Chicagoan in search of a gay square dance lifestyle, were introduced at Carol's Speakeasy one C&W night. Both had the same quest-show to start a gay square dance club in Chicago.
With the help of Nick Kelly and another ex-Puddletowner, Joel Murdy, Chi-Town Squares became a reality. The club's first class was held on October 27, 1987, and the following May, 36 dancers graduated Mainstream.
Ron Goodman went on to serve as the club's first President and has more recently won Gay Chicago Magazine's "Country Western DJ of the Year" award, Jerry Cohen served on Chi-Town' s original Steering Committee, and sadly passed away in 1991.
A few short weeks after that first graduation, 75% of Chi-Town' s members traveled to Phoenix to attend the IAGSDC CROSSTRAILS IN THE DESERT Convention. Chicago was now unquestionably hooked on square dancing!
During our second year, the Steering Committee gave way to an elected Board of Directors, and that Halloween saw the virgin appearance of the ever-lovely, even more popular Chi- Town SheDevils. Lil Biddydick, Lotta Reckonwith, LaBella DaBall, and Lyla K. Rugg first gave life to what has become a Chicago phenomena-- The SheDevils.
After entertaining our own club for a year or two's worth of parties, The SheDevils grew in number and fame. By the time they had performed at various charitable benefits, several leather contests (yes, leather contests, why they even headlined the last International Mr. Leather Contest), shared the stage with the famous Millie Orchid Show, and hosted Sunday brunches for out-of-town square dancers -- their numbers had swollen, not to mention their hair!
The SheDevils now included Layona Davenport, Lucy Anna Purchase, LoAnne Behold, Lucinda Saddle, Leda Horstawater, Lois Carmen Denominator, Luwanada B. Astarr, L'More L'Merrier, Libby A. Majora, Lynn Guini, Lillian DeVaIley, Luna Tic, Ludann Lasivious, to name but some of these starlets. To be a SheDevil, one merely needs lots of crinolines, big hair, and an "L" name. Layona and her SheDevil Court captured the Honky Tonk Queen title at the 1990 Vancouver Convention.
Chi- Town Squares membership took a drastic leap in 1989 with 71 new dancers starting classes. This was close on the heels of our very first, very successful fly-in (thank you very much to 34 different cities for making that possible), The Great Chicago Crossfire. This has, of course, become our annual Labor Day event, with each succeeding year attracting more and more dancers.
In this, our sixth year, we now offer classes from basic through A2 levels, with an unofficial C1 class for the truly masochistic. Lin Jarvis has been our caller since year 2, but Chi-Towner John Oldfield is quickly becoming quite a caller himself.
One of our most fun events was a square dance "retreat" we did just last year: Campy Dancing (natch!). Many neighboring clubs are hoping to join us for this unique weekend this year. Another high for us was appearing on the local TV show Wild Chicago, which is a 30-minute trip visiting just that--Chicago's wild side--and we are so happy to be thought of as part of that.


Club Caller[s]: John Oldfield, Sandie Bryant, Lin Jarvis (deceased), Michael Maltenfort, Arlene Kaspik


Dance Location[s]:

Fly-Ins Hosted:

Conventions Hosted:

Media Features:

Videos: A video profile of Chi-Town Squares from a local television show can be found at [1].


  1. All Thing Considered, NPR, 28 Jun 2005